Citizen Science Ecology 

Monitoring Soil Health through Citizen Science

By Sandra Arango-Caro and Terry Woodford-Thomas MO DIRT, Missourians Doing Impact Research Together, is a program that educates individuals on soil science and engages them as citizen scientists. These volunteers contribute baseline information that helps our understanding of the current health status of Missouri soils. Soil health is the ability of the soil to function as a vital ecosystem that sustains living organisms, their processes, and environmental quality. Human existence is determined in part by soil health because of its critical role in food security and climate security.  Citizen science…

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Citizen Science Connected Blog Ecology 

Protect Local Waterways with the EarthEcho Water Challenge

By Sean Russell On March 22, this year’s EarthEcho Water Challenge kicked off, empowering young people and community members around the world to monitor and protect local water resources in their communities. Initiated in 2003 as the World Water Monitoring Challenge (in celebration of the U.S. Clean Water Act), this year-round, global program is designed to connect anyone, of any age, to their local water resources through water quality monitoring. Participants share their water quality data through the global EarthEcho Water Challenge online database, contributing to our understanding of the…

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Ecology Geology 

Exploring the Science of Mountain Biodiversity

By Jacqueline Mattos (@mattosjacq) Mountain systems are hotspots of biodiversity, which means that they host many different species of many taxonomic groups in condensed spatial scales. Much has been studied about mountains and their diversity, but the biological and geological processes that maintain their great number of species remain elusive. In a recent review in Nature Geoscience, Alexandre Antonelli and colleagues have accounted for many different aspects of mountains and their diversity, trying to fill in the many gaps in this field of study by quantifying the relative importance of…

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Botany Ecology Environment 

An Evolutionary Approach to Conserving Plant Habitats

By Mackenzie Myers (@thetiniestnail) To conserve plant habitats, a traditional approach to biodiversity—species richness, or saving as many species as possible—might not be the most effective route. Instead, vulnerable landscapes might be better served by a quality-over-quantity mindset, a recent paper from a team of UC Berkeley scientists suggests. Think of going into a grocery store. On a budget and with limited cooking time, shoppers probably don’t buy the first dozen random ingredients they see on the shelf. Rather, they find it more practical to shop deliberately, perhaps by looking…

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Book Reviews Citizen Science Connected Blog Ecology Oceanography 

Book Review: a World Without Fish and Unraveling Ocean Life

by Patricia Balbon Day-to-day encounters of fish—at the grocery store, visiting an aquarium—passively reinforce a notion of triviality about aquatic life until we are prompted to take a pause and spare a thought for a breathtaking world beyond the shore. This month’s selection in our ongoing book review series, World Without Fish, prompts such reflection; however, as the pages turn, we witness the marine world’s vulnerability alongside its majesty.  Through Mark Kurlansky’s words and Frank Stockton’s art, we are challenged by the crisis of disappearing biodiversity in our oceans.  This…

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Ecology Environment Science Policy 

Forest Restoration, Not Plantations, Will Curb Warming

By Neha Jain (@lifesciexplore) Forests are our best natural weapon against climate change. By sucking up large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, forests can store about a quarter of the carbon necessary to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. So, it is not surprising that boosting forest area through restoration has been one of the main goals of international organizations tackling rising global temperatures. Encouragingly, 43 countries concentrated around the tropics, where trees grow fast, have pledged to restore 292 million hectares of forest…

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Animals Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog Ecology 

Citizen Science in Nebraska is Bigger Than You Think

by Megan Ray Nichols (@nicholsrmegan) In Nebraska, scientists working for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission are increasingly relying on casual researchers and citizen scientists to better understand three creatures in particular: spotted skunks, salamanders, and regal fritillary butterflies. Why? The populations of these species have either declined or are in jeopardy, and scientists want to get a current population count. Let’s take a closer look at these three Nebraskan citizen science projects and what researchers hope to learn from data collected by citizen scientists. Nebraska is a big state.…

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Biology Biota Project Ecology 

The Millions of Microbes Beneath our Feet

By Nicholas Dove (@nicholascdove), for The Biota Project Microorganisms are everywhere on planet earth—on every surface, in the air, in the ground, and inside you. The good news is that many of these benefit you. Recent findings have shown that having a healthy gut microbiome (community of microorganisms) is important for proper digestion and even disease prevention (Penicillin is an antibacterial fungus that is used to treat many types of infections). Similarly, having a healthy soil microbiome is important to support plants and properly functioning ecosystems. Soil microbes play a…

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